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  • 1 Department of Psychiatry, VA Connecticut Healthcare/Yale University School of Medicine, West Haven, CT, USA
  • 2 Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA
  • 3 Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA
  • 4 Department of Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA
  • 5 Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, Connecticut Mental Health Center, Room S-104, 34 Park Street, New Haven, CT, USA
Open access

Abstract

Background

Decision-making and risk-taking behavior undergo developmental changes during adolescence. Disadvantageous decision-making and increased risk-taking may lead to problematic behaviors such as substance use and abuse, pathological gambling and excessive internet use.

Methods

Based on MEDLINE searches, this article reviews the literature on decision-making and risk-taking and their relationships to addiction vulnerability in youth.

Results

Decision-making and risk-taking behaviors involve brain areas that undergo developmental changes during puberty and young adulthood. Individual differences and peer pressure also relate importantly to decision-making and risk-taking.

Conclusions

Brain-based changes in emotional, motivational and cognitive processing may underlie risk-taking and decision-making propensities in adolescence, making this period a time of heightened vulnerability for engagement in addictive behaviors.

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